Green Guide to Sustainable Christmas Gifting


As we get closer to Christmas we're getting excited at a chance to spread some cheer and joy at this time of year. We are constantly being reminded of the cost of living and with the continuing climate crisis, we firmly believe that we could all do with a bit of festive cheer.

So let's enjoy the festive period!

And let's do so in a way that does good, won't break the bank AND makes us feel good.

Our sister site and ethical gift shop, Green Tulip, is absolutely committed to the idea that gifting should be a pleasure for you and for the recipients.

And that feeling good about what you buy and how it makes your loved ones feel is as much a part of gifting as the gift itself.

They get that, it's at the core of everything they offer in the gifting experience. Here's how they can help.

Choosing the right gift 

Some people are naturals at choosing gifts, others need a bit of help or guidance to make choices that will be really appreciated by the recipient.

Fear not, at Green Tulip, they have a huge range of gifts and have used their experience of over 16 years, to put together some gift guides and gift ideas for you. Their gift expert, Emily has thoughtfully curated these selections from their most popular products:

Shopping by recipient - choose for the person/people.

Shopping by price - set your limits.

Shop by Edits - pick our brains for ideas for the special people (and pets) in your life.

They also have a stocking filler gift finder too, as these are often chosen last minute and can be a bit of a desperate choice! All under £10, will fit in a stocking and nothing trashy. 

Find out first! 


Ask! This year, more than ever it is important to find out what people might want, it might surprise you.

Some people, who you think might want a useful and practical money saving gift, might actually want a beautiful and joyful reminder that Christmas is for fun and enjoyment! Check out the Green Tulip Christmas edit for a great deal of cheer and inspiration.

And vice versa, buying someone something they will get use out of might be very important to them this year.

You can always ask them to send you a wish list from a website or company. Green Tulip's is so easy to use and share. If you choose from the list, there is still the element of 'surprise'.

Once you know what they would like, you won't be buying anything unwanted that might end up regifted or returned.

You can also use the wish list when you are browsing to choose gifts for yourself. Simply add to your wish list by tapping on the heart and easily send to friends and family.

With a staggering 17.8% of merchandise sold predicted to be returned both online and in-person over Christmas, that is a huge amount of wasted time, effort and money.(National Retail Federation).

Many large retailers simply don't bother to put returned items back into stock, they end up going to landfill. This shocking fact is because it is often cheaper to 'throw away' than check, repackage and sell. Over £5 billion worth of waste through returns was generated worldwide in 2021 (BBC Earth). The environmental (and economic) impacts of this are huge.

Although they would never do that at Green Tulip, it's certainly worth making an extra effort to get the gifts right.

What happens if you end up with a gift you don't want? We think the best option is to regift it to someone whom you know will love it, or donate to one of the many charity schemes that collect for Christmas gifts. This article from Glamour Magazine gives you some ideas for different types of gifts.

Wrapping and packaging

At Christmas it's more important than ever to be thoughtful, and as most of us will be watching how much we spend, we don't want to be wasteful.

We also don't want to be wasteful in our actions either, as Christmas and the festive period is traditionally associated with huge amounts of waste: Waste wrapping - wrapping paper, plastic packaging (think toys!!) boxes and delivery packaging.

Green Tulip believe in: 

Beautiful and sustainable packaging

Gifts should be beautiful - both gift and the presentation. But not at the expense of creating loads of unmanageable waste. 

At Green Tulip they make your gift look beautiful in the most sustainable way possible.

All gift wrapping (and packaging) is reusable and also recyclable as it is all paper based. Paper tape, wire free paper ribbon, and natural tissue paper are all completely plastic free.

You can send your gifts directly to the recipients to save time, money and repacking. Follow the instructions on the website if you have more than one gift recipient in your order - we've tried to think of everything for you.  

If you are buying a gift for someone, we will offer you a choice of gift cards from the following and write your message on them, free of charge. 

At Christmas, they use a stamp to say no peeking, gift inside! And make sure that the gift looks lovely inside a plain, kraft card box.

If you choose gift wrapping, they will wrap using your choice of coloured ribbon in kraft paper inside a box for delivery, with your choice of card, handwritten and ready for Christmas day.

Other packaging ideas

If you have gifts you want to wrap yourself, why not try these great ideas. Check out our Pinterest board for beautiful, waste free, simple gift wrapping ideas.

  • Furoshiki- the Japanese art of wrapping with fabric
  • Scarves
  • Plain paper
  • Recycle from last year & save for next
  • Cut up Christmas cards for labels
  • Plastic free tape will mean any plain wrapping paper is easily recycled or composted

Getting Organised

Buy well in advance of the end of shopping and shipping dates. Make a list for each week or month between now and Christmas and try to spread out the purchasing.

This means you'll feel more in control and won't be tempted by the big retailers splashing 'panic buying' signals all across the media. 

Let's be clear, retail giants are only after one thing. Your hard earned money.

Any Black Friday deals have been meticulously planned by marketing and retail experts to make you think you are getting the best deal possible and influencing your decision to 'buy now' and 'buy with them'.

But an investigation by consumer watchdog Which? has revealed that a whopping 98% of products that were on sale on Black Friday 2021 were actually cheaper or the same as their Black Friday price at other times in the year.  

While you might expect some products to fall in price over time, Which also found that 86% of the items had also been the same price or cheaper in the six months before Black Friday.  So start looking early and track prices leading up to Christmas if you have a large purchase to make.

Real bargains may well be available with a bit of searching, and absolutely take advantage of these where you can with good planning. If you are tempted by a deal, before you buy ask yourself:

  • Do I really need this?
  • Is it really a bargain?
  • Can I afford it?
  • Am I being influenced to buy?


If you are unsure of a gift and want your loved one to get something they really want, think about gift vouchers. By spreading out these you can spread the cost and most retailers, including us can send directly to the recipients right up to the last minute! Check out Green Tulip's gift voucher selection 💚 

Choose well

Choosing to shop ethically with quality companies means buying better.

Small independent stores offer more unique, better quality, less mass produced gifts. Quite often, they have already ditched plastic packaging and support ethical suppliers, doing much of the thinking for you!

Knowing that your choices are doing good in the world too will give you a warm fuzzy feeling that just can't be beat. Allowing you to do good and feel good at the same time without spending any more. Here are some of our favourites at Green Tulip:

From left:

  • About Blanks Upcycled Sketch Books - A fabulous gift using books that otherwise would have been thrown out at some point because nobody reads them anymore, is an important part of working sustainably. Sustainability goes beyond reusing and recycling materials. About Blanks products are made in a social employment facility, where people with a disability or poor job prospects can get paid work and consequently participate in society.
  • Cycle of Good produces quality gifts handcrafted in Malawi using locally printed cloth and recycled materials such as old bicycle inner tubes and used coffee bean sacks. The Cycle of Good team trains tailors in the world’s poorest places so they can earn a decent living and support their families. All money made pays for childcare and non-profit social enterprise in Malawi. That's why it’s called the Cycle of Good!
  • My Doris Upcycled Sari Bags -  My Doris products are made by hand from start to finish using traditional methods and techniques, bringing the designs to life and constantly inspiring the My Doris team. Each one is unique due to the upcycled nature.
  • Aura Que Fair Trade Gifts - All Aura Que gorgeous accessories are designed with integrity in Hastings and brought to life by skilled fair trade producers in Nepal, each handcrafted product is to be treasured season after season. AURA QUE's direct collaboration also means customers can connect with the people who make their products.
  • Nemi Teas Nemi Teas is a jobs-focussed Social Enterprise providing transitional employment to refugees in the UK. The idea came in 2016 when Founder Pranav Chopra visited a local cafe in North London and met a group of refugees from all corners of the world who spoke perfect English, and had a wealth of knowledge, but could not find local work due to a lack of experience here in the UK.
  • Pivot Earrings - Make Pivot is an ethical and sustainable social enterprise that employs young homeless people who live in hostels and pays them the London living wage to hand produce jewellery and accessories. The pieces are designed so they can be made in hostels, bringing part-time, flexible and meaningful employment for those who find it more difficult to access it.

Finally Don't Forget The Kids

Christmas is wonderful for children, lots of family, friends, food and .......


As we have all had children growing up in this era of abundant plastic waste, we have shuddered every time they opened a gift from a well meaning family member that is 1) made of plastic and 2) encased in layers of impenetrable plastic packaging. Well, things have started to change for the better and it is possible to find non- plastic gifts that children will love, without a shred of plastic packaging to dispose of. Less work at the bins after Christmas! All of our children's gifts are free from plastic packaging.


  • Little Peeps Tommy Toadstool Inspired by children's literature from bygone days, this delightful pocket-sized character with red hair, a toadstool beret and removable dungarees says "Be kind to every kind". The brand regularly donates to Eden Reforestation Projects, one of the most effective re-forestation projects on the planet. Their work helps to reduce extreme poverty and restore healthy forests by employing local villagers to plant millions of trees every year.
  • Mentari Toys -  Deeply committed to protecting Indonesia’s natural resources, a new tree is planted for every reclaimed one that Mentari uses, driving ahead the cycle of regeneration. Both Mentari & Tender Leaf Toys are proud to have been awarded the ICTI Ethical Toy Program seal of approval for their ethical and sustainable supply chain. Mentari & Tender Leaf also support Eden Projects here in the UK, which is now recognised as one of the most effective re-forestation projects on the planet.
  • Pebble Rattles -  Following WFTO accrediation, Pebble is currently the only guaranteed fair trade crochet toys in the world. It now employs over 5,000 women in 52 different regions of Bangladesh, and handmade products are still at the core of the business. These gorgeous, tactile crochet rattles are a perfect baby gift.

We hope you have found this guide useful, if you have any tips and ideas to add for a greener, more sustainable gift buying, we'd love to hear them in the comments below.

Happy Green Christmas shopping!